Also Known As that Big Ass Witchy Book on My Shelf
When I decided to write a review of this book, I looked at other reviews and mentions online to see if this writing would still be relevant today. Obviously I decided that it was because witches older and younger than myself are still grabbing it off the shelves! That being said, the reviews of the book are on a wide scale with some loving it (like myself) and some outright hating it. One only needs to look at the Amazon reviews to see the spread of opinions.
While I do not want to linger on the discord of some of the bad reviews, I did want to acknowledge that many that I read seemed to be written by people making assumptions about the book rather than reading it for themselves. These assumptions are often based on RavenWolf's controversial books for teens, which have been disregarded as "fluffy" and, in some cases, inappropriate for the age range they are published for. This is, of course, another topic all together but I did want to say I love Silver RavenWolf's writing, she is one of the reasons I studied witchcraft as a teenager, and many of the people that consider her work to be "fluff" ...well I can't really see it and don't think they've actually read much of her work. (Another note: her works of teen fiction are meant to be taken as that - fiction, not how-to manuals).
Now that we have that covered, let's move on and get into The Ultimate BOS, shall we?
Each section has its own table of contents. I found this incredibly helpful rather than a 4 page table of contents at the very front to have to keep referring back to. The book actually reads more like an encyclopedia. The organization and effort that went into it...well, I cannot imagine and I wish my own book of shadows was this well put-together (confession: its actually a box of pages at this point waiting on me to reorganize and put it back into book-form).
Shadows of Religion & Mystery
I wanted to note that this section is heavily influenced by Silver's own religious beliefs rather than an over-all view of witchcraft from different cultures. Most of the principles and sections here deal with Wiccan belief systems such as the Charge of the Goddess, sabbats, the Wiccan Rede, and the Witch's Pyramid. That being said, most of this information is good to know for any witch seeking a magickal education, even if they don't practice this in their own lives.
I am a particular fan of the sections on circle-casting (as it answers the question of why we cast a circle in the first place), rites of passage, and ritual from preparation to structure. Yes, this is all basic, 101 sort of stuff but I think even well-versed witches would do themselves some good to review these beginner principles now and then and remind themselves of where we come from and why we do what we do.
Shadows of Objects & Tools
Books I recommend include:
Shadows of Expertise & Proficiency
This is the section of the book that I admit I use the most. I am not particularly proficient at astrology at this time and I find Silver's section and how-to's here to be very beneficial. She explains parts about astrology like charting, degrees, hour tables, and retrogrades in such a way that I'm finally, after years of struggling with even my own natal chart, starting to understand.
The only part about this section that I found to be an issue (a very minor one) is I don't really understand the inclusion of Affirmations here nor would I have organized the section in the ways she has with Hoodoo and Pow-wow as merely mentioned as segments of spellwork and not given more of a place in the first part of the book as a cultural and magickal lifestyle and practice. I am sure she had her reasons but I can't place them in my own head. I also give a lot of thought to wondering if she or the editors placed things in the book as they are now.
Shadows of Magick & Enchantment
Shadows of Magick & Real Life
I think this is the section that we can see Silver as a leader in her community and as a mom as she takes so much into consideration and, I believe, that much of this section probably came from real issues that either she, her daughter, or those in her life have had to deal with. As someone who loves to help others add magick into their lives every day, there is a lot of love from me to Silver for putting this section in The Ultimate Book of Shadows (and for including similar sections in most of her non-fiction books).
One of the biggest controversial names in witchcraft today!
Silver's writing career began with how-to articles on art projects and fictional short stories that blossomed into a full-time career in 1991 with her first full length book. Since that time she has written over 21 books for Llewellyn World Wide.
Silver is the Tradition Head of the Black Forest Clan, a Wiccan training organization that has grown exponentially in the past twenty years.
Not Only is Silver a Witch, she is also a Braucherei (Pow-Wow) Practitioner. With over twenty years of experience, Silver teaches this amazing faith healing system to students all over the world.
Be sure to check out her blog and her website.